Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Fires

"Why don't the newscasters
cry when they read about
people who die?
At least they could be decent

enough
to put just
a tear in their eyes."
- Jack Johnson
"Lullabye."



Imagine this: you're in your house, the kids are watching t.v. It's a hot day ... super hot. There are bushfires around, but no threat to you. Or so you think. Suddenly, with absolutely no warning, the sky turns black with smoke and ash. You hear the whoosh of the fire approaching .... like a wave, travelling at the same speed as the ferocious winds.

You have no hope, the fire comes and you all die.

Or, you make it to your car, panicked and hysterical. Race through smoke, travelling along the only road leading out of town .... and smash into five other cars that have crashed into each other. You all burn to death in your cars.

Or you're a firefighter, who gets called to help fight the fire that day. Your own house ends up burning down, killing your wife and children.

Two beautiful, blonde-haired sisters perish, trying in vain to save their beloved horses in the burning paddocks.

An elderly woman is found dead in her car, next to carefully packed boxes of her best china and glasswear.

Four children from the same family found dead in the bath.

A firefighting truck races through town, lights and sirens blaring .... and sees people stumbling around the street, dazed, confused and scared. This truck, heartbreakingly, cannot stop. One firefighter spoke of seeing a man and his two small sons, standing bewildered in the middle of the street, barefoot. I often wonder if that man and his kids made it out alive. I hope so.

Imagine running for your life, your grandparents leading the way. Your brother and sister die ... you could have sworn they were right behind you. You are just 13 years old.




___

My February 7th, 2009, was hot also. In temperature and temperament. Dave and I were arguing, he was sitting in his ute about to leave, but I wanted to get the last word in. He ended up driving over my foot, which swelled up immediately. I knew it wasn't broken, and I knew it was an accident, but my God it went purple.

Dave ended up going to his mums house with Tim, I had the two younger boys with me all weekend. I took Max to soccer registration, round about the time the winds changed in Victoria. We went for a swim at Blackheath pool, and stayed for ages. The baby loved splashing in the water, Max met up with some mates there and spent hours having "funny jump" competitions. I text my sister a pic of my purple toe, laughing. (Me, not my toe.) It was so damn hot, we stayed at the pool until evening ... just as the first of the doomed towns got absolutely annihilated by fire. Hell on earth. One woman said it was literally raining big chunks of fire.

We got home, and I saw on the news that around 20 people had died. It was DREADFUL, I thought, "Oh, no. Those poor people."

And hugged my boys close. Why does it take a tragedy for us to be reminded of how precious life is?

That night and the next morning, the death was climbing, climbing. Max saw my reactions to the TV and wanted to know what happened. I switched it off, and tried to think of something else.

I couldn't.

It was so hot that I couldn't even return the DVDs to the movie store. We stayed inside all day, with the curtains drawn, conserving energy.

A horror show was unfolding before Australia's eyes .... the likes of which we have never seen before. News footage of big tough Aussie men and woman, cracking and crying, in shock. Traumatised beyond words, living in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

I rang Dave, in tears. All was forgiven. "I love you, hon! Please come home!"

He couldn't come home til the next day, as it was just too hot to drive.

__

It hasn't even been a month, yet. Weeks ago, The Fires were pushed off the front page. By the looming recession, shark attacks, and other useless things. There has been a low chorus of people ... I have heard it with my own ears .... "Oh, I'm SO sick of watching all this stuff about the bushfires .... ahhh, not the f*cking fires again, isn't there something else on? .... Is this thing STILL going?"

Funny how some people turn their heads. It must just be too much for them.

I have thought about The Fires every single day, since they have happened. There's not much I can do. I can buy this, or donate here.

210 people comfirmed dead so far
1100 homes lost
Tens of thousands of native animals killed

A grandmother received some precious photos of her grandchildren, via email. Due to a computer glitch, she got them four days after the fires had claimed their lives, and the lives of both their parents. Two happy, smiling babies. She said it was like they were telling her from heaven that they were ok. She wept, saying quietly how she replied back. Even though it was a bit silly.

I cried for her, thinking it was not silly at all.

The best thing I can do, is to send my love and positive thoughts towards all of the people left behind. I know this works. I know it's hard to think about what happened that day, but, out of respect, I just don't think we should ever, ever forget.

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